Readers of a certain age may equate the idea of smoke signals with a cue for John Wayne to start getting the wagons in a circle, the idea was brought bang up to date with the installation of two “ephemeral speaking cloud structures” by Minimaforms at the OFFLOAD festival in Bristol last month.
The clouds, one of which was sited outside the Watershed media center on the city’s waterfront and the other in a disused cathedral in Park Place, combined the ancient practice of smoke signalling with the distinctly twenty-first century communications platform of SMS messaging. “Participants engage in a collective act of writing space through the use of light as a virtual writing machine onto ephemeral plumes of smoke,” explain Minimaforms. In other words, onlookers can text messages which are then displayed using light projected into plumes of smoke. Their texts “are fed through dynamic coding that recognizes, archives and plays back a real time visualization. This visualization is then grafted onto trajectories of smoke that form a dynamic ephemeral field that is affected by all external forces in the space of performance. Through turbulence the smoke writes or erases the grafting of the inputted text.”
Minimaforms, an experimental architecture and design studio founded by Stephen Spyropoulos and Theodore Spyropoulos, say they have been in discussions to perform Smoke Signals in New York and London – details to be announced soon here.